Prospective evaluation of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography in patients with biliary disease: comparative study with conventional ultrasonography and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography diagnostic algorithm

S Pamos, A Benages, E Medina, V Martinez Sanjuan
Digestive and Liver Disease 2003, 35 (3): 186-92

BACKGROUND: Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography is an accurate technique that can replace invasive diagnostic methods of the biliary and pancreatic duct.

AIMS: Our aim was to assess sensitivity and specificity of magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography and ultrasonography using the results of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography as reference, and to establish a diagnostic algorithm under which circumstances magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography can replace endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.

PATIENTS: Eighty-three patients with suspicion of biliary disease based on clinical, biochemical and ultrasonography findings were studied.

METHODS: Ultrasonography, magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography were performed, comparing the results of the techniques for the determination of their sensitivity and specificity.

RESULTS: Sensitivity and specificity results obtained by magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography were: 100 and 92.8% when dilated ducts were detected (n=61); 97.4 and 97.2% in the diagnosis of choledocholithiasis (n=38); 100 and 96.7% in malignant lesions (n=14) and 81.8 and 98.4% when biliary ducts were normal. The percentage of images of diagnostic quality was 97.6%. Sensitivity and specificity achieved by ultrasonography was: 100 and 57.1% in detection of dilatation, 71 and 97.2% in choledocholithiasis, 92.8 and 96.7% in malignancy and 66.6 and 96.8% in normal ducts.

CONCLUSIONS: Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography is a technique with high sensitivity and specificity in the evaluation of biliary ducts. Thus, magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography may replace diagnostic endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography for purely diagnostic purposes, following an initial clinical and ultrasonographic exam.

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